July 29, 2013

White House touts benefits of immigration overhaul on agriculture

A new report released by the White House today detail benefits from the Senate immigration bill on the nation's agricultural industry and rural communities.

The report states the Senate bill would boost farm output and give illegal immigrants and their families the security needed to invest in skills and education and pursue higher-paying employment.

According to an economic analysis by the Regional Economic Models, Inc., an expanded visa program would raise gross domestic product by approximately $2 billion in 2014 and $9.79 billion in 2045.

"It is time for the Republican leadership in the House to act to fix the broken immigration system in a way that requires responsibility from everyone —both from workers here illegally and from those who hire them—and guarantees that everyone is playing by the same rules," the White House writes.

Obama will meet Wednesday with congressional Democrats

President Barack Obama will meet Wednesday with congressional Democrats, a final effort to push his agenda before lawmakers leave Friday for an extended recess.

Obama is scheduled to meet with House of Representatives Democrats for an hour Wednesday, starting at 10:10 a.m. Then he plans to talk to Senate Democrats for an hour, starting at 11:25 a.m.

It's likely that the major topics will include the federal budget and immigration. Neither matter is likely to be settled this week, but when Congress returns Sept. 9, both are expected to be at the top of the agenda.

The new federal fiscal year begins Oct. 1, and Republicans, who run the House, and Democrats have not engaged in serious talks about a budget. And while the Senate passed legislation last month to overhaul the nation's immigration system, the House has yet to act--and will not take up the Senate bill.

July 23, 2013

Obama meets with Asian American lawmakers

President Barack Obama met with members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus at the White House Tuesday.

It comes weeks after he met with the black and Hispanic caucuses.

Obama  stressed that the need to rewrite the nation's immigration law.

"He thanked CAPAC for their ongoing efforts on this important issue and both sides agreed on the need to pass immigration reform now to help grow the economy, create jobs and reduce the deficit," according to the White House. "The President urged CAPAC to continue to reach out to their colleagues in the House to find consensus and complete work on this important issue at the earliest possible opportunity."

Obama told the group that he was proud of his efforts to make the executive branch and the federal judiciary more diverse though in the past some members have critical of a Cabinet that only includes one Asian American.

July 22, 2013

Congress' Latino-Jewish caucus weighs in on immigration

The Latino-Jewish congressional caucus offered its views Monday on immigration, noting that "Latino and Jewish communities in the U.S. share interests and values that have been defined by their unique immigrant experiences which often navigate diverse identities, nationalities and cultures."

The House of Representativies is considering a series of measures. No timetable has been set for votes, but one that is unlikely is a vote on the Senate legislation to create a path to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants.

The bipartisan Latino-Jewish group, launched two years ago, does mention a path to citizenship in its statement.

Here are its key points:

"In both communities, immigrants resettled in the United States with the hope of securing a better future for their families. Both Jewish and Latino immigrants have struggled to overcome discrimination and find a balance between integrating into the American culture and preserving their rich heritage. Our communities have built strong coalitions across a number of issues, based on this common historical experience; nowhere is that more evident than in our mutual work on immigration issues and reforming our nation’s broken immigration system.

Continue reading "Congress' Latino-Jewish caucus weighs in on immigration" »

July 21, 2013

Boehner: "We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal"

The test of success in the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner said Sunday, is how many laws are taken off the books.

"We should not be judged on how many new laws we create.  We ought to be judged on how many laws that we repeal," the Ohio Republican told CBS' "Face the Nation."

"We've got more laws than the administration could ever enforce. And so we don't do commemorative bills on the floor, we don't do all that nonsense.  We deal with what the American people want us to deal with."

That can be unpopular, Boehner conceded. "Why?" he asked. "We're in a divided government.  We're fighting for what we believe in.  Sometimes, you know, the American people don't like this mess.

"It's not about me.  It's not about what I want.  What I'm -- what I've committed to when I became speaker was to a more open and fair process.  And as difficult as this issue is, me taking a hard position for or against some of these issues will make it harder for us to get a bill."

Boehner talked about his leadership style, which involves letter the House work its will.

Continue reading "Boehner: "We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal"" »

July 19, 2013

Napolitano confirmed in California, but appointment draws fire

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was confirmed as president of the University of California system amid protests from immigration groups who criticize her for overseeing a record number of deportations.

United We Dream, which says it's the largest network of immigrant youth in the country, denounced Napolitano's appointment, saying she "oversaw the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants, tearing families apart and cementing a legacy of militarization and out-of-control enforcement."

"How can someone with a record of ripping families apart lead a major university system in the state with the highest number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.?” said Cristina Jimenez, managing director of United We Dream.

The Sacramento Bee says Napolitano pledged students would be welcome at the 10-campus university system, regardless of their immigration status.

July 16, 2013

Obama say he's optimistic on immigration passage this fall

President Obama expressed cautious optimism about getting a sweeping immigration bill through Congress -- though he re-adjusted his timetable to this fall, acknowledging it won't happen -- as he had hoped -- by the time Congress leaves on its August recess.

The remarks came in interviews Obama gave to four Spanish language TV stations as House Republicans remain opposed to the bill. In one of the interviews, Obama attributed some of the opposition to members who are nervous about their own political futures.

 In an interview with Norma Garcia, a Telemundo news anchor in Dallas, Obama said some House members "believe that immigration will encourage further demographic changes and that may not be good for them politically." (Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King said the bill "would hurt Republicans," arguing that "two out of every three of the new citizens would be Democrats."

 Obama said others are responding to constituencies "that may have, in some cases, legitimate concerns about immigration, but may not know all the facts, they may not know everything that we've done on the borders to strengthen border security."

 Despite the opposition, Obama said he hopes he'll be able to sign the bill in the fall -- noting that he had originally hoped to do so before Congress went on its August recess.

 "If in fact the House recognized the smart thing, the right thing to do, was to go ahead and send the Senate bill to the floor for a vote, I think it would pass tomorrow," Obama said, likely with Democratic support. But, he said, "House Republicans, I think, still have to process this issue and discuss it further and hopefully, I think, still hear from constituents, from businesses to labor, to evangelical Christians who all are supporting immigration reform."

 Obama gave interviews to Spanish language anchors in Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles and New York as part of a push for the immigration legislation. In the Dallas interview, he also warned against a House plan to break up the bill into pieces, saying it would encourage a tendency to "put off the hard stuff until the end.

"If you've eaten your dessert before you've eaten your meal, at least with my children, sometimes they don't end up eating their vegetables," he said. "So we need to, I think, do this as a complete package."

July 13, 2013

Obama presses for immigration bill

President Obama pressed for House passage of the immigration bill in his weekly radio address, urging listeners and viewers to contact their members of Congress.

"Tell your Representatives that now is the time," Obama says. "Call or email or post on their Facebook walls and ask them to get this done. Because together, we can grow our economy and keep America strong for years to come."

He noted that lawmakers have been struggling with the issue for more than a decade and credited his predecessor, George W. Bush, for first proposing "the broad outlines of immigration reform."

Obama highlighted what he said was Bush's "very good speech" expressing his hope that an immigration bill can become law and that "if Democrats and Republicans – including President Bush and I – can agree on something, that’s a pretty good place to start."

Obama said a bipartisan majority of senators approved a Senate version two weeks ago and "now the House needs to act so I can sign commonsense immigration reform into law."

The speech comes as the House failed earlier this week to find common ground on legislation that provides a path to citizenship for millions in the country illegally and as Janet Napolitano, one of Obama's point persons on immigration, plans to step down from her post as Secretary of Homeland Security.

July 12, 2013

Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano to leave Cabinet

Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano -- a member of President Obama's Cabinet since the start of his administration -- is leaving to become president of the University of California system.

Her departure comes as President Obama tries to move a massive immigration overhaul with a divided Congress struggling to find common ground on how to deal with the estimated 11 million people who are in the country illegally.

Obama lauded Napolitano in a statement, saying her portfolio had included "some of the toughest challenges facing our country." He said she had worked "around the clock" to respond to natural disasters, including the Joplin tornado and Hurricane Sandy.

And he said that "since day one, Janet has led my administration’s effort to secure our borders, deploying a historic number of resources, while also taking steps to make our immigration system fairer and more consistent with our values."

Continue reading "Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano to leave Cabinet" »

July 11, 2013

Senators say they are encouraged by House response on immigration. Really.

Here's something you might not have expected.

Sens. John McCain and Chuck Schumer, who helped craft the Senate immigration bill, say they are actually encouraged by a House Republican statement that called the Senate bill flawed.

After a 45-minute with President Barack Obama at the White House, McCain and Schumer said they were pleased that House Republicans at least acknowledged a problem with the nation's immigration laws.

"We realize their views are not the same as ours but certainly the idea that they want to move forward on immigration reform is very, very encouraging," Schumer, D-N.Y. said.

Continue reading "Senators say they are encouraged by House response on immigration. Really." »


"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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